Perfect Films for Every Occasion, Holiday, Mood, Ordeal and Whim
Selections from the book

Springtime Films

Movie-wise, this is subtle differentiation from summer, but there is a special sense of springtime renewal in some films – a feeling of looking forward, to a warmer, happier future, the way every kid gazes toward the end of the school year.

Selections from Flickipedia. For more movie recommendations in this category, please consult the book.

scene from emma
Elvira Madigan (1967) The first international Swedish hit film that wasn’t about sex or directed by Ingmar Bergman, Bo Widerberg’s rendition of the famous (in northern Europe) Tristan-and-Isolde-ish true story – a tragic romance between an AWOL soldier and a young tightrope walker – looks like it was shot entirely on warm May mornings. It may be the greenest film ever made, awash with sun-dappled glades and verdant glens. (There’s also this unsung ‘60s innovation: the realistic portrayal of young love, with all of its silly goofing, frolicking in wild fields, and swatches of time doing very little at all besides kanoodling. Movies just didn’t do this before the era’s New Wave revolution.) Routinely labeled at the time the most beautifully photographed film of all time, leavened with Mozart, and a seasonal blessing.

The Secret Garden (1993) The redemptive power of spring is a common theme in literature, but certainly less so in movies (tending to focus more on plot process than seasonal transition). Agnieszka Holland’s retelling of this turn-of-the-century nursery standard is so evocative of spring you can practically smell the wakening soil. The story centers around Mary (Kate Maberly), an imperious and sullen child orphaned and sent to live with the husband of her late aunt at his grand English estate. Finding a locked garden as neglected as herself, Mary sets about bringing it back to life – as well as a bedridden cousin, more of a grouchy snipe than she is, convinced he’s already on his death-bed at 10 years old. Endless moors, swaying ivy, twittering robins, shoots struggling in the weeds, lads riding bareback – there isn’t a moment of this film that doesn’t feel like winter’s end. Don’t relegate it to the children’s bin.

Emma (1996) Jane Austen’s tale of the young matchmaker with social stature, a doting father, and awful instincts about the suitability of mates. Emma Woodhouse takes a plain-Jane mouse under her wing and tries to plan a shiddoch with the insipid Reverend Elton, who actually hankers after Emma herself, and from there nothing goes as planned, including her own relationship with the sensible Mr. Knightly, played with intelligent humor by Jeremy Northam. A springtime tale of love played out in the pastoral English countryside where the ladies stroll over wooden bridges amid flocks of geese. Every scene is bathed in sunlight, crowning Gwyneth Paltrow’s golden tresses, and the few winter scenes do not shake the overall spring-is-in-the-air feel. The soothing scenery offsets the complex machinations of Emma’s faulty matchmaking and a sweet song by Ewan McGregor is a bonus.

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